Despite what many fad diets promise, getting a flat stomach takes time and dedication to a healthy lifestyle. However, if you're seeking a flatter tummy for a big event or bikini season and only have three weeks to get in shape, you can definitely improve your current stomach status. Commit to a structured exercise regimen and eat a super-clean diet to maximize results and achieve a lean midsection.
Drop Those Calories
To get a flatter stomach, you will need to lose any excess weight around your midsection. To lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than you consume. There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, so slashing 7,000 calories per week can help you safely lose up to 2 pounds per week. Cut anywhere from 500 to 1,000 calories from your daily diet by ditching soda drinks, dropping the bread from your sandwiches and munching on leafy green salads instead. Furthermore, monitor your salt intake, as excess amounts of sodium can lead to fluid retention and a puffy belly. Avoid processed foods and increase your water intake to eight to 10 glasses of water a day to minimize the effects of salt and prevent bloating. If you find it difficult to cut too many calories from an already healthy diet, amp up your activity level to burn off more and still create a caloric deficit.
Crank Up the Cardio
Lose the belly fat with cardiovascular exercise done at least five times per week. Cardio increases the heart rate and revs up the metabolism to burn off calories for fat loss. Exercise at a moderate pace, where you can still speak if needed, for 45- to 60-minute sessions. Amp up the caloric burn by incorporating high-intensity intervals into your sessions two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days. Try running for one minute hard, in which you can't carry on a conversation, followed by two minutes of lighter jogging. Repeat up to 10 times. Always warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes.
Tighten Those Abs
Abdominal strengthening exercises will tone up belly muscles for a bikini-baring physique. Aim to do a core workout five times per week and change up exercises to avoid boredom or injury. You are not likely to get an overuse injury from doing abdominal workouts on consecutive days since you are not using heavy weights or doing high-intensity training. Pick out six to eight abdominal exercises and do them back to back in one-minute intervals for a circuit. Repeat the circuit three times. A sample workout might include one-minute stations of front planks, v-situps, side planks with a twisting rotation, reverse crunches, hanging leg raises and medicine ball twists.
All About Proportions
Train your upper- and lower-body muscles in addition to your abs and heart for a flatter tummy. Stronger arms and legs will give you a well-defined body overall and can distract from a tummy that isn't perfectly taut. Train the arms, chest, back, shoulders, glutes and legs two to three times per week with two exercises per body part. Aim to do 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise, or until fatigue sets in, for a total of two sets. Exercises to tone up include pushups, triceps dips, shoulder presses, seated back rows, bench presses, squats, lunges and hip extensions.